Future Summit

Yesterday, I was a remote participant in the Future Summit held in Melbourne on 18th & 19th May 2009. I participated through Twitter, by interacting with attendees at the event, responding to questions & posting comments to various twitterers attending the various sessions on the program.

To me, it felt like I recieved a condensed, highly concentrated (as in I received the core nuggets of each presentation as it happened) presentation without the fluff. Do I feel like I participated? Absolutely yes! Through posing questions to the attendees and having questions and comments retweeted helped me better understand what was being presented and also to get a feel for the mood of the audience.

Things I liked:

  • I got a good feel for what was presented
  • I could ask questions
  • I threw in some of my own comments (which were commented on by others)
  • I had a number of my posts re-tweeted to a wider audience
  • I picked up a number of new followers (which seems to be the holy grail of Twitter [to some people!])
  • Having the Twitter back-channel provide on-the-spot comments from the sessions

Things I missed:

  • The ‘hubbub’ that occurs in audiences when something contentious, alarming or incorrect is mentioned
  • The camaraderie of the audience who shared some of my thoughts/comments – it would have been great to be there and interact with others

Things I inferred/picked up from the comments being made by the attendees:

  • For one of the sessions, the panel kept asking/answering their own questions, not allowing the session to be participative!
  • From the tweet messages, the wrap-up from Julie Bishop seemed to lose the audience and not really achieving it’s intention (of bringing everything together to a close)
  • There seemed to be no actions/action plan we could see/walk away with

Ultimately, I felt like I had been participated in this event, probably more due to the retweeting and interactions with other tweeters.I may even have opened up a can of worms with this comment I made:

It sure is a waste gathering people together to hear the panel talk amongst themselves! Save the CO2 and webcast it 😛

Who’s to know that next time they don’t just have it as a webcast, or a combination of webcast & live sessions – Twitter certainly helped me get a feel for things in real time!

I’d like to thank @SamMutimer, @mspecht, @kcarruthers, @geehall1, @amoyal, @nathanhulls + others for all retweeting my posts/asking questions! 🙂

Not a recession!

What we’re currently experiencing is not a recession (or a depression).

Steve Ballmer (Microsoft CEO) recently (Stanford UniversityMay 2009) said “...what we have been suffering through is no normal recession, but rather a reset to a lower level, a kind of severe rejiggering of the economy that has happened just four times in the past 200 years.

Well said.

There are also claims that not even economists could predict the events we have all seen as their models of prediction simply were outdated and not updated with information about new financial ‘products’ such as Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDO). In a way, I think many many people were blinded by the greed/growth being experienced – in this case it really does fit the cliche that ‘what goes up must come down’.

What’s the moral of the story? I hope more people become educated about money, where it comes from and how it’s used more than they do today. In a way it’s easy to blame the households that took out too-large mortgages underpinning the CDO’s but that would be glossing over the systemic problems brought about at many levels of the finance/banking industry that really showed how internally frail the whole system was. House built of sticks?

Better road users

When I made the decision to get my motorcycle licence, one of my decision points was to become a better car driver. I strongly believed it at the time, and in the 6 years since I got my motorcycle licence, I wholeheartedly believe I am a better car driver for it.

So, putting this thought into practice, here is my basic framework for building a nation of better road users:

Every person seeking a driving licence needs to gain a licence in every form of transport

  1. Start with a motorcycle licence – become one of the most vulnerable road users and understand how difficult it is to ride safely and be seen by other road users.
  2. Then, get your truck driver’s licence. After being one of the most vulnerable road users, become one of the most despised and misunderstood section of road users. You will soon understand how difficult it is to pull up a fully laden truck in such a small space after other road users take up your valuable braking space
  3. If you’re still around and haven’t been scared out of your wits, you can progress to a car drivers licence. It’s envisaged that after being at both ends of the spectrum as a road user, you will then appreciate, understand and respect the vulnerable and the misunderstood

This is a simplistic view, but outlines the basics of expanding your skills whilst understanding more about how other people use the road.

Some other ideas: Graduated education programs for all road users (similar to the rider education program in existence in NSW), an understanding that driving a motor vehicle is a privilege not a right, and ensuring people have the right mindset when they get behind the wheel.

What are your thoughts on this?

Some ways to help make Australia a great nation – Jobs

Here are some of my thoughts on how to make Australia a great nation, starting with some job roles. Show how much we really appreciate some of society’s more important professions:

  1. Nurses. Nurses cop it every which way and are the front-line for an ailing health system. They’re over-worked, under-appreciated (in every way) and are often left  to support sick & grieving patients and relatives. A lot of what they do is not in their job description. It’s about time we recognise just how much ‘extra’ nurses provide. Here’s an example of  Nurses on the brink. It’s not just the pay – fix the working conditions, make the career attractive, support the nurses by ensuring they’re not the dumping point for everything that’s wrong with the health system, hire more of them, stop nurses leaving the profession (or, find out why they are leaving and what can be done to help stop or reverse the trend).
  2. Teachers. Teachers are another profession where they’re in the front line and often don’t get the respect they deserve as the educators of our future generations (case in point, recent article on school teachers being bullied). Sure, there are some bad teachers who should be weeded out, but the majority are there to make a difference and provide a fertile learning environment for the future generations. Unfortunately many are doing it tough with antiquated materials, resources or curriculum. I applaud the Rudd Government’s proposal to modernise Primary schools as a step in the right direction, but we need more.
  3. Politicians. I urge you to have a long, hard look at your situation – Check out your salaries + all your perks and prove your worth to the people of Australia. Do you really need an extra $5000 a year to print useless guff on pieces of paper that will mostly end up as junk mail? And if you don’t happen to spend it all, it can become part of your income. Wow, what a back-door way to give yourselves a pay rise! The rest of the world is getting by with the mantra “getting more for less”, and so should you. How about we take back $5000 each and say ‘do more with less’. If you want more money, I’ll ask 2 questions of you:
    1. What would you sacrifice to fund the change (Health? Education? The Arts? There is an opportunity cost associated with you getting more money – what will that cost be?
    2. What extra value (to the people of Australia) will this provide?

This is just a simple view on how we should be tackling some of the important things in our society and not just giving handouts…

Whose content are you selling?

One of my biggest gripes is waiting for content to load on a website. To make matters worse, a lot of the time the status message in my browser says “waiting for xxx.yyy.com”, the links to ads/stats sites are slowing down your own content!

I realise that online ads are one way to get a revenue stream to your website,but I believe you fail should your content be ‘waiting’ for the ad server/applets/pics/whatever. Your content should take pride of place and be the first element to show up. If this is not happening on your website, then it’s time you looked at things seriously and ask what it is you want people to know, experience, walk away with after interacting with your website.

Your content is why people/customers are visiting your website – don’t turn them away by not giving them what they want as quickly as possible!